"HOW DARE YOU!" Dakota shouted at Ruby. "Kabuto would not know cute if it slapped him in the back of the head!"
Ruby gasped. "You take that back!"
"DAKOTA, YOU TAKE THAT BACK THIS INSTANT!"
I snickered to myself and pulled another blue and red gummy worm out of the package sitting on my lap. This was my favorite part of the day. Sitting on the local park swingset, listening to the birds chirping...and my friends nagging each other about which anime character is best...was where I loved to be. I was almost out of gummy worms, though, which sort of depressed me.
"WOMAN, I'M GOING TO KILL YOU!" Ruby shouted at Dakota. Dakota shot her a Chesire Cat grin and laughed maniacally.
"Air strike!" I heard a voice yell into my ear, and before I could figure out what was happening, my gummy worms had been scooped up into Kevin's talons and carried away to become the glucose that constantly coursed through his veins.
"Kevin, you little NERDFACE!!!" I sprang out of my swing and stomped the ground harder with every stride I took in pursuit of the hyper boy. My combat boots kicked up sand behind me. I didn't hear any bickering behind me as I sprinted off, so my sudden shriek must have silenced them briefly. "GET BACK HERE WITH MY GUMMY WORMS!" I chased him all the way to a pond that I seriously thought about shoving him into if I didn't catch him. Just when the toes of my boots reached the edge of the pond, he disappeared from sight, and I had no clue where he was. I decided to stop for breath. I crouched down, resting on my toes, and panted for a moment before lifting my head and scanning the surrounding area for Kevin. Not a sign of him. Huh, I thought, maybe he just fell in and I won't have to shove him.
"Looking for someone?" I heard his childish taunt cry. I looked around, but I didn't see him anywhere.
"C'mere, ya little spider monkey. This'll only hurt a lot..." I crept around, suddenly remembering his reputation for tucking himself into tiny crevices and beating everyone at hide-and-seek in his younger years. I was just about to check around the trunk of a tree that leaned over the pond when his face popped out right in front of me.
He was dangling from a branch in the tree by his ankles, his hair hanging down over his face, the sugary powder from the bottom of the gummy worm bag covering his mouth and fingers. "Boo!" he shouted, swinging forward and laughing. That laugh was the last thing I registered before I stumbled backwards into the pond and felt freezing cold water seeping through my jacket to chill my bones. I could easily reach the bottom of the pond without being underwater, so it wasn't that hard for me to swing my legs over the edge, pull myself up, and leap for the branch he occupied. He screamed in surprise and fell to the ground, flailing his arms like a turtle flipped onto its back.
"Look, kid, you're gonna have to be smarter than that if you wanna play with Ginger." I sat on top of him, dripping wet and almost shivering from my dip in the pond, and snatched up my now-empty pack of worms.
Ruby and Dakota came rushing over all of a sudden. At least Ruby looked genuinely worried. Dakota could barely hold back laughter. "Are you all right?" Ruby asked, taking in the whole scene.
"Sure we are," I said, "right, Kevinator?"
"You callin' me fat?!"
"No no no!"
That's where Dakota lost it. She laughed so hard that she had to get on her hands and knees and eventually lay down gripping her stomach. I seriously thought she was going to wet her pants right there. Of course, she didn't. She eventually got up, complaining about her sore sides, and swiped at the tears in her eyes.
"Hey, what's going on over here?" I saw Lya trekking down the side of the hill that the pond rested beside.
"Oh, you know, normality," I replied with a shrug. I dipped my finger into the sugary-sweet dust of gummy worms and licked it off, all the while not moving from Kevin, who was trying desperately but failing to unseat me. "Hey Rubes, what was it that you and Kota were arguing about earlier?"
"She still thinks Jiraiya is better than Kabuto, which he is most certainly NOT."
"Of course he is!" Dakota shouted back, which began another screaming match over which character was better looking. Meanwhile, I sat on top of Kevin, licking gummy worm powder off my fingers and snickering at his attempts to move me.
Lya just sort of sat down on a bench next to the pond and opened a package of Cheez-Its from her coat pocket. She gave me a half-grin as she started to munch on her snack.
"What are you smiling about?" I asked her.
"Oh, you know," she said, glancing at Ruby and Dakota, then back to me and Kevin. "Just enjoying the show."